Why Famous: Gene Kelly transformed the Hollywood musical in the 1950s with his athletic dancing style and modern choreography. The 1952 musical "Singin' in the Rain" with his famous dance partnering an umbrella around a lamp post is often considered the 'greatest musical ever made'.
Kelly originally began performing on Broadway before being offered a film contract with MGM in 1942. After serving two years in the US Navy during WWII he returned to MGM as a performer, producer and director. His successful films include "One the Town" (1949) with Frank Sinatra, "An American in Paris" (1951) with director Vincent Minnelli and Leslie Caron, which won eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and a special Oscar for Kelly.
"Singin' in the Rain" followed along with "Hello Dolly" with Barbra Streisand in 1969. In 1960 Kelly was asked to choreograph a ballet for the Paris Opera and his "Concerto in F" received 27 curtain calls on its premiere. The French government later made Kelly a chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
- 1949-12-08 "On the Town", the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen, is released
- 1951-08-26 "An American in Paris" with music by George Gershwin, directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron premieres in London (Academy Awards Best Picture 1952)
- 1952-03-27 "Singin' in the Rain", musical comedy directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, premieres at Radio City Music Hall in NYC
- 1994-07-23 Dancer and actor Gene Kelly suffers a mild stroke
- Gene Kelly, Dancer of Vigor and Grace, Dies - NY Times